Americans are spending more time in their cars, time spent in cars on weekdays has increased by over an hour since 2003. Last week, Arbitron, Edison Research and Scarborough presented an update to a study from 2003 called The Road Ahead that looks at in-car listening options and adoptions.
While radio continues to the the audio listening choice in cars, its dominance has dropped by 12% since 2003. Back then 1% of people chose satellite radio, and listening to ipods and Internet radio streams was not an option. Now, 8% of folks who have driven or ridden in a car in the last month have listened to satellite radio, and a whole slew of new choices have bubbled up to compete with AM/FM broadcast radio. 6% listened to a Pandora stream, 4% to an AM/FM stream, and 2% to another non-Pandora stream. (The numbers are not exclusive so we can’t add them up).
The study also looked at the way people “feel” about various listening platforms, and the results are very insightful. At the top of the list of things people “love” listening to in their car is satellite radio with 54%. 34% “love” listening to Pandora via a mobile phone. And 30% love listening to AM/FM streams via a mobile phone, while 28% “love” listening to the same content on their AM/FM radio. New technologies, notes the study, get better “love” ratings, even if the content is the same..
Despite a proliferation of new in-car technologies, radio remains the “king”. But that’s not a license to be complacent, cautions the study. Instead, radio should recognize that “digital platforms are crucial to protecting radio’s in-car franchise. In fact, the authors of the study believe that HD radio has the ability to “provide the ‘wow’ factor for AM/FM in-car radio. This must be based on the higher “love” ranking that HD Radio gets among people that have it.
In 5-10 years the term “radio” will encompass all audio content that is distributed as continuous programming and delivered via various technologies including broadcast, satellite, and streaming. Radio devices will receive such programming from all of these sources seamlessly, so there will be less and less focus on which technology is delivering it. The listener will select programming from a list of presets that shows broadcast radio next to streaming radio next to satellite choices.
As they are empowered by more and more choices, the consumer will become more selective and less tolerant of mediocre programming. It will be the content offerings rather than the technologies that draw in the listener.
With so many listening options, listeners will be less tolerant of ad content that offers them no value. This will further cheapen mass appeal advertising, but it will drive the use of more targeted, relevant ad creative. Free, ad-supported stations will obtain permission from listeners who will opt to receive targeted, relevant ads. Those ads will be more valuable to them and will show a higher return on investment for the advertiser.
The ability for listeners to interact with and respond to programming and advertising will become critical, stations and advertisers will develop more and better ways to do this such as sms and online 1-click solutions that make it as easy for listeners to respond to an ad as it is to give a song “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.”
I’m thinking more and more these days about the large number of listening choices that consumers now have and the way that that will impact just about everything in the future. Listeners are empowered and can choose exactly what they want to listen to, on what technology and device, and how they want to hear it. I think the winning platforms will be the ones that recognize that. What do you think?
Radio is not in decline, it’s expanding, and that represents an enormous opportunity, according to Arbitron‘s SVP Paul Krasinski. Krasinski and SVP Bill Rose presented results of their recently updated Infinite Dial Study at RAIN Summit West last week and encouraged broadcasters to recognize the opportunity that digital distribution offers.
With 86% of the 12+ population connected to broadband and one-third of consumers owning a smartphone, it’s a different world. Embracing the fact that radio’s audience is distributed beyond the broadcast is key to future success. Access to audio has changed, has radio changed? asked Krasinski.
Online radio’s audience is expanding, with 89 million listening last month. And 89% of those listeners listen to both broadcast and online radio. Krasinski urged the crowd to alter their view of “audience” and see it across all of radio’s channels. In that regard, the audience is growing. With that growth comes a responsibility to offer great content to listeners.
A key component for radio will be developing innovative solutions for advertisers that enable them to use and measure the effectiveness across these distributed channels. Over the past few months we’ve heard hints that Arbitron is planning to step back into streaming measurement and while they have not announced anything yet, it sounds like it will be a product that enables stations to aggregate audiences from distributed channels. While their PPM product does measure streaming now, it only measures such for stations that simulcast 100% of the time, meaning that stations that sell streaming ads separately from over the air ads don’t qualify. Whether this will change is unclear.
The streaming audience measurement game is stepping up its pace – with the recent accreditation of Webcast Metrics and Arbitron beginning to talk about new plans for the space, more and better options are available to stations, which is bound to be good for the industry.
When it comes to introducing new technological features that could increase revenue as part of their media offerings, broadcast groups that own more than one station are moving much more quickly than stand-alone stations. Group owned stations are better able to finance the deployment of new features – in fact at about twice the rate of independently owned stations.
That’s bound to impact the rate at which the two groups – group owned and independent stations – will be able to grow revenue. Group owned stations are much more likely to have video on their website, mobile listening apps, multiple channel streaming and even broadcasting in HD, according to a new “Progress Report” on Revenue Generating Radio Technologies sponsored by Wheatstone Engineering.
The study surveyed technical radio professionals – radio engineers, operations managers, etc. and attempted to gauge how fast new technologies are being adopted by radio professionals. The survey was sent to the email list of two industry publications that are likely to be read by tech folks. While the results are interesting, I weighed in earlier and pointed out to Josh Gordon of Alethea Research that it looked like he was hearing from more of the technologically savvy folks. For example, this study finds that between 20% (AM) and 37% (FM) of stations are broadcasting in HD, but according to Arbitron’s Radio Today report just 4% (AM) and 10% (FM) of stations are.
When respondents were asked to pick the one new technology that they thought would make money for their station before all others they chose streaming their signal over the Internet over a list of others.
It’s an interesting assessment of broadcasters’ attitudes toward new media. There’s obviously an opportunity for vendors who can figure out a way to make it affordable for independent stations to implement some of these new technologies..
Broadcast business solution provider Marketron timed their announcement that they purchased mSnap to hit during the Radio Show last week. With all the buzz about mobile at the show, it was good thinking. Marketron, owned by Wicks, is a powerhouse in the broadcast radio business solutions marketplace – last week separate employees of the company were telling me that their market share is 70 or 80%.
Marketron’s been focused on integrating their platform, which provides tools to broadcasters for scheduling, tracking, inventory management and billing, with other solutions providers that enable new types of inventory, including streaming and mobile. Earlier this year they announced a partnership with AndoMedia to facilitate the scheduling, delivery and billing of broadcasters’ streaming assets.
The mSnap acquisition enables companies to sell and fulfill both mobile and broadcast assets in the same single, integrated platform. This will eliminate the operational complexity of managing the sale of diverse advertising assets through multiple systems and processes.
“Mobile is one of the fastest growing advertising segments in our industry and mSnap has established itself as an innovative leader in the category,” said Mike Pallad, Executive Vice President of Sales for Citadel Broadcasting. “The acquisition of the company by Marketron, which offers a host of cross-channel solutions for media companies, will increase mSnap’s capabilities and development. We’re proud of our partnerships with Marketron and mSnap and look forward to the benefits this merger will offer our stations and advertisers.”
This is a really wise move for Marketron, one that will benefit them and their clients as well as the industry as a whole. Tools that make it easier for broadcasters to manage their inventory will inevitably increase the value of those assets. As broadcasters adopt revenue strategies that include more and more diverse inventory sets, smart platforms like this make that inventory manageable, trackable, and therefore more valuable.
(In the interest of full disclosure, which I believe the bloggers in our industry need to be more respectful of, I have done some consulting with Marketron in the past.)
By 9am on weekdays NPR‘s broadcast audience has peaked, while the online audience continues to build until mid afternoon. According to data NPR recently shared on their website, the broadcast audience peaks at 7am with about 2.3 million listeners in an average quarter hour. Two hours later that number is under 2 million and falling – while the streaming audience is ramping up.
The streaming audience peaks at about 70,000 at 2pm. Both the broadcast and streaming numbers drop for the rest of the afternoon, with the broadcast audience peaking to 2 million again at 5pm.
NPR.org’s deep online platform includes a large amount of programming from the 24 Hour Stream or archived shows like Morning Edition, NPR Newscasts, Car Talk, or NPR Music. The online number seems to indicate website traffic, and therefore counts visits to NPR’s blogs and news offerings on the site as well.
It’s very interesting data that underscores what a deep platform NPR has. By offering live and archived streamed programming and other website features, NPR is doing a nice job of expanding their brand.
Note: This post has been updated (9:50am) for better accuracy. Many thanks to Matt for his comments and insight.